Septic Pumping

For an estimate and to schedule:
Call our office at 828.552.5174 x4

(or send us an email)

These are generalities - systems differ and requirements differ for various types of work.

Please feel free to reach out to us by phone, email, or text if you have any questions.


How often do I pump my tank?

The State laws and rules say

(a) Any person owning or controlling the property upon which a ground absorption sewage treatment and disposal system is installed shall be responsible for the following items regarding the maintenance of the system:
(2) Ground absorption sewage treatment and disposal systems shall be checked, and the contents of the septic tank removed, periodically from all compartments, to ensure proper operation of the system. The contents shall be pumped whenever the solids level is found to be more than 1/3 of the liquid depth in any compartment.


Now, this is not very useful for the average homeowner, so the general "rule of thumb" is every 3-5 years (and we are seeing more and more permits where the county is writing "pump every 3-5 years").


What's Included?

Our pumping service includes:

  • Uncovering both lids up to 1ft deep

  • Pumping up to 1,000 gallons of flowable solids

  • Dump Fees


Additional services (at additional cost):

  • Uncovering lid between 1 and 3 ft deep (price is per foot per lid) - or homeowner can uncover - see this section for more information

  • Use of an e-locator

This is not an inspection - it doesn't include any observations of the system.

There are factors that can require a "special project pump", including, but not limited to: non flowable solids; distance from truck to tank; height from tank to truck; etc - please see this section for more information.  Often there is no way to know until we are onsite.  If we can't complete a standard pump, we refund part of the pump price and will give you the options for completing the pump.

Pumping does not solve all septic/plumbing problems - please see this section for more information.

Prices are available here


1,000 Gallons

Our pump service is for up to 1,000 gallons


Most tanks in this area hold 1,000 gallons plus 9 inches of air space.

A tank that is overly full (no air space, or less than 9in) or backing up into the house, may not be completely empty, but it should get most of it and (for a system working and being used properly) pumping again in 3yrs should be fine.

Additionally, 1,600 gallon tanks (plus airspace) are not uncommon. 

If you want/need your tank 100% empty and it is more than 1,000 gallons, you would need to order a second pump.


One Lid or Both Lids? Inlet or Outlet?

Most tanks in this area have two lids - one over the inlet pipe and one over the outlet pipe. Most tanks also have something call a "baffle wall" which divides a tank into an "inlet side" (2/3 of the tank) and an "outlet side" (about 1/3 of the tank).  For a tank that is working properly and being pumped on a regular basis, most of the solids should "settle out" on the inlet side.

The best procedure is to uncover both lids, then the pumper can look at both sides and see if there is anything he needs to know, pump from the inlet side (some of the outlet side will back flow through the baffle wall), pump from the outlet side, and clean the outlet filter (if applicable).

If you are going to pump from one lid only (which is not recommended), it should be the inlet lid, if it is accessible, as that should have most of the solids.

Please see this section about pumping through risers, pump ports, cleanouts, other "pipes" or access devices.


Backing up in house or yard

If you have septage coming up in your house or yard, it could be that your tank hasn't been pumped recently and is overfull or it could be a sign of another problem.   Please see this page for more information about emergency service.


Special Project Pumping

There are various conditions that can require a "special project pump":

  • The contents are no longer "flowable".  In a tank that is being used properly, is working properly, and is being regularly maintained, the contents should be like muddy water or a slushy or a slightly melted milkshake.  If a tank gets too full and squeezes the water out or hasn't been used and the water evaporates, the solids can become too solid, like a really big lump of clay.  Imagine having a small shop vac and trying to suck up a bathtub full of muddy water versus a bathtub packed full of modeling clay.

  • Truck to tank is more than 150 ft.  Pump trucks can carry about 150ft of hose, but sometimes the tank is farther from the house than that. Our trucks are on F550 bases with 4 wd, but there are still some driveways that that we can't get up or down safely or bridges that we cannot cross safely.  We can arrange extra trucks, hoses, people, and time to complete these pumps.

  • A sharp, steep height difference between the tank and truck may require use of a "booster pump" to help pull the septage up the hill.


For more information about special project pumps, please see this page.  Special project pumps have their own pricing - please call for an estimate.


Can you pump from this pipe?

Tank Lids & Access Risers

Tank lids are usually found on either end of the tank (one above the inlet, one above the outlet).

For concrete tanks, they are usually about 22 x 22 inches (though they can be other sizes); for plastic tanks and access risers, they are usually about 18" across and are green plastic circles.

For access risers, the original lids are removed, the riser is put on over the existing hole, and a lid is put on at the top of the riser so that the lids is (closer to) ground level and easier to access.

For pumping, the lids provide maximum visibility so that we can see what is in the tank and maximum access so we can move the hose around and reach all the areas. This is the best choice is accessible and less than 3ft deep.

Tank vs Pump Tanks

99% of septic tanks are buried - though the lids could be at ground level.  There is sometimes a second tank called a pump tank - these should extend up above ground level.   They are usually square, with one lid, and should have a control and alarm box (which is usually next to the tank, but can be closer to, or in, the house).  The main septic tank is what should be pumped regularly - pump tanks that are working properly rarely need pumped.  If you open a pump tank, there should be a bunch of equipment in it.

"Pump Port"

Pump ports were very popular for a period of time (before Access Risers) for tanks that were deep.  They are a pipe, usually about 8" across with a cap that are stuck straight through the tank lid or top.  These can be pumped through, but if the lids are accessible and less than 3ft, we highly recommend pumping from the lids - pump ports have no visibility into the tank, no way to clean the filter, and limit the maneuverability of the hose.


Cleanouts are about 4" across (usually with a twist off cap) that are installed on the line between the house and the tank.  They are for cleaning the line - they do not provide direct access to the tank.  We do sometimes use them to help locate the tank.  Sometimes they can be used to pump septage out of the line between the house and the tank, but since you can't directly access the tank and the inlet line is at the top of the tank you *cannot* pump out the tank through a cleanout.

tank lids best
tank lids best

Tank lids provide the best access

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Riser Lids
Riser Lids

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Cleanout on line
Cleanout on line

can be helpful but is not for pumping or inspections

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tank lids best
tank lids best

Tank lids provide the best access

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Bridges and Driveways

Safety of our employees and equipment is our priority!

We do have trucks with 4wd and our trucks are F500 sized instead of tractor trailer size so we can often get to places that other trucks can't; however, if there is a question, we will err on the side of caution.

We may decline jobs that have driveways that are not well maintained, are uncommonly steep, slippery, narrow, or have uncommonly tight turns (or we may reschedule for better weather conditions) or bridges that are not well maintained or do not look sturdy enough.

We can provide an estimate for a special project pump.